There are many ways to react to evil and sin. Many try to distance themselves from their sins when they get caught, “Oh that’s not truly who I am.” They try to claim that their sins don’t belong to them while standing with their proverbial hand in the cookie jar. The sin is still present. It is still having its desired effect on those who sinned and those who were sinned against. In Genesis before the first murder, God warned Cain, “…sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you…” The truth of the sin is still there.
In the face of evil, it seems everyone has something to say. Everyone wants to “add something to the discussion.” Politicians do this even when we don’t care in the least what they say. The posting of words, endless words and writings that have become some kind of societal exercise in self help therapy. That we are all by default everyone’s shrink, ready to just be open ears for everyone’s opinion.
While listening and being a caring Christian for others to lean on in a time of need is important, there is what is called compassion fatigue. When we are inundated with bad news or tragedy after tragedy, we as humans absorb suffering even when it is not our own. However, we can only handle so much bad news until it really begins to weigh on us, cause damage even lead to depression or anxiety. God made us to be empathetic, to share in one another’s burdens. This is a good characteristic of being human because it is a characteristic that is completed and perfected in the God/Man Christ.
Even though compassion and empathy are important, there is a point when our human frailty/sinfulness comes into play. We cannot sympathize with everyone. We cannot give compassion to every person we come across who is suffering. We can pray and we must pray for all people. However, there is a limit to what we can handle. “If it bleeds it leads.” This is what is dangerous about social media and even our own televisions. When we hear of all the bad news, which is really the exposing of sin, this takes a toll on our God given conscience.
Even worse, this placing of sin before our eyes, our ears and our senses has become monetized. The producers and broadcasters do not care for you, they just want the advertising dollars to keep flowing (Not even addressing the obvious dangers of pornography). They prey on a human characteristic that is meant for good. Like a boxer is paid to take punishment on his body, eventually the boxer’s body just can’t take it anymore, but the manager’s pocket sure jingles all the way to the bank.
If you consider the scriptures, God teaches us that there is a purpose for our being able to suffer with others in their time of suffering. We walk along side those God has put in our life to help them. When God became man, this was of utmost importance for his task of redeeming humanity. He must be man in every sense of the word, including enduring when all the news is bad.
The author of Hebrews in chapter 2 points out the fact that Christ must also suffer with others. “At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him [God]. But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone…
Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”
We don’t like to suffer. We chaff under bad days. We get angry when things don’t go how we want. Or we become doubtful of God’s will when things are heavy. Suffering is not good in our eyes because it reminds us we are not God and we do not have ultimate control. Jesus suffers innocently for us.
So, what does God do? He comes in the flesh. He gives up control, “Not my will Father but your will be done.” Jesus lives by faith perfectly. He helps everyone who comes to him. He endures with others even to the point of death. It is there on the cross that he bore the sins of all people. It is there that he was truly God, doing what no mere man could do. He remained steadfast under the weight of the sins of the world. Jesus does this so that he may absolve us of our sins. God becomes like us, bound to the travails and suffering of sin, so that we may finally be like him, glorified.
It is Jesus who speaks to suffering and sin “And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” To forgive sins one must first hear them. Jesus establishes the Christian church to be a place that hears. A place of confession. A place where sin is not broadcasted but forgiven. A place where sin is not denied but confessed, “If we say we are without sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins God who is faithful and just will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:8
Jesus is the one who can speak authoritatively, “And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
God’s solution to our sin in the world is absolution. God’s solution to evil and swallow it, “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:54ff
We don’t swallow our sins, nor other’s sins, we repent. God gives us repentance as a gift. Acts 5:31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. The gift of repentance is so that we may both repent but also that we have others we may confess to James 5:16
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” The healing is a result of the Gospel of Jesus Christ crucified for our sins and raised for our justification entering our ears.
“If it bleeds it leads.” This is how the news operates. We as the church should confess to one another so that we may hear of the blood of Christ shed for the world that leads us to eternal life. ” My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” John 10:27-28. Fill your ears with the shepherd’s voice. Do not let the chaos and this world overload you with compassion fatigue. “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.” Matt. 11:28.
See you on Sunday!